What is tonsillitis?
What is tonsillitis? : Tonsils apart from adenoids are the human body’s 1st line of defense as part of the immune system, Tonsils are 2 lumps, similar to lymph nodes situated at the back of the throat.
They filter bacteria and viruses which enter the body through the mouth or nose, but they themselves can sometimes become infected.
Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils caused by certain viruses and bacteria. When tonsillitis occurs the tonsils get inflamed and swell up which causes nasal obstruction and/or breathing, swallowing, and sleep problems. Tonsillitis usually is contagious last for about 7-10 days.
What are the causes of tonsillitis?
Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils because of infection by certain viruses and bacteria. It is a more common childhood condition and can occur at any age.
Tonsils produce white blood cells (WBC) which combat viruses and bacteria that enter the body through the mouth. But if the immune system is weak, specifically in children, overworked, and elderly people then the tonsils become vulnerable during the attack by the viruses and bacteria and get infected.
The most common cause of tonsillitis is a virus infection. The viruses cause infections including common cold and flu, and there is the EBV virus which is part of the herpes family which spreads through bodily fluids, most commonly through kissing which causes mononucleosis or mono also known as the kissing disease.
Here are few of the common viruses that cause tonsillitis:
The most common bacterium which causes tonsillitis is the one that causes strep throat especially in children, called Streptococcus pyogenes.
You can also read :
What are the symptoms of tonsillitis?
The symptoms of tonsillitis are:
- Throat pain
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Enlarged or swollen tonsils
- A whitish or yellowish coating on the tonsils
- Sore an itchy throat
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Raspy voice
- Bad breath
- A headache
- Disturbed sleep
- Ear pain
- Jaw pain
- Stomach pain
How is tonsillitis diagnosed?
A Doctor asks for the medical history of the patient and then performs a physical examination.
He can check the throat for swollen tonsils and also looks at the nose and ears, He listens to the breathing using a stethoscope.
For severe cases, the doctor may ask a swab test to be done in which the doctor rubs a sterile swab over the back of the patient’s throat to get a sample of secretions which is then sent to the laboratory for testing.
The swab test is especially done to check if the cause of the infection is streptococcal bacteria.
What are the complications of tonsillitis?
Inflammation or swelling of the tonsils from frequent or chronic tonsillitis can cause complications such as:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Poor sleep
- Extreme pain while swallowing
- Extreme fatigue and weakness
- Middle ear infection causing ear pain – otitis media
If you face any of the above complications you need to report a doctor immediately.
Very rare complications of tonsillitis may occur if the underlying bacterial infection is not treated, or if the antibiotic treatment remains incomplete. They include:
- Scarlet fever
- Rheumatic fever
- Glomerulonephritis – infection of the filters in the kidneys which causes vomiting and loss of appetite
Who is on higher risk to tonsillitis?
The people who are on higher risk of tonsillitis are:
- Children especially between the ages of 3 to 7 (viral tonsillitis)
- Children between 5 and 15 years (bacterial tonsillitis)
- Overworked people
- Elderly people
- People frequently exposed to crowded places
What is the treatment for tonsillitis?
Treatment for tonsillitis depends largely on the cause of the disease. If the cause of this disease is a bacterial infection, antibiotics can be prescribed.
Viral infections do not show up on tests, but, if the bacterial tests show as negative it can be safely assumed that it is a viral infection.
If the cause is viral infection antibiotics will not help in treatment, and your immune system will fight off the infection on its own.
In the meantime, you can follow the simple home remedies to treat it, apart from complete bed rest, which can bring adequate relief.
Home care Tips for tonsillitis
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Get lots of rest
- Gargle with warm salt water around 3 to 4 times a day
- Use throat lozenges
- Use a humidifier to moisten the air where you stay
- Avoid smoking
Also, Read some other home remedies :
- Best home remedies to prevent Acidity and heartburn
- Reasons and Natural remedies for frequent Headache
Prevention of tonsillitis
Tonsillitis is a highly contagious disease. To decrease the risk of getting tonsillitis, stay away from people who have active infections.
Wash your hands more often, especially after coming into contact with someone who has a sore throat, or is coughing or sneezing.
If you are infected by tonsillitis, try to stay away from others until you are no longer contagious.
Thank you for reading “tonsillitis“, you can also read:
- Meniere’s Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
- Multiple Sclerosis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME Disease)
- UTI : Meaning, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
- Sinusitis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
- Vertigo: Meaning, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
- HIV AIDS : Some myths and facts on spread of an HIV infection